Today was the big day: we received our first package of bees. They had been brought up from California yesterday; and bright and early this morning we claimed our very own package of Carniolan bees. It’s definitely a strange feeling to be holding 10,000 bees in your hands, contained just by a flimsy wire mesh. They were tightly clustered around the queen and very calm, humming gently. Within the next few hours though, they warmed up and started to get more and more animated – they were definitely ready to get out of that little box.
Wearing our brand new bee suits, we got to work providing the bees with a new home. The queen is the first to enter her new abode. She’ll have to remain in her cage for another day or two, until we are sure that the colony has fully accepted her. Until then, the bees will feed her through the wire mesh of the queen cage.
Then we unceremoniously dumped all the bees right into the hive. It seems rough, but that’s how everybody does it; and the bees don’t seem to mind too much. Of course, there were a lot of bees swirling around in the air too. But they are not at all aggressive at this time – they’re just getting their bearings in their new surroundings, before they get to work creating the new colony.
They have a challenging couple of weeks ahead of them: the workers have to build all the wax comb so the queen can start laying eggs; they have to be gathering pollen and nectar to keep everybody fed; and they have to rear new bees. Since the average lifespan of a bee is only 6 weeks, they need to raise another 10,000 bees within the next few weeks just to keep the colony going at the current level. Luckily there are plenty of flowers and trees in bloom, and the weather has also finally changed a bit for the better too.
It was a very exciting and somewhat nerve-wracking day. But already we’re having a ton of fun just observing the bees around the hive. We’re really curious to see how the hive will develop in the coming weeks. Oh, and next weekend: package #2 arrives!